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Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for sciatica

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, October 2016
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  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (95th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (87th percentile)

Mentioned by

1 blog
1 policy source
58 tweeters
7 Facebook pages
1 Wikipedia page
1 Q&A thread
1 video uploader


22 Dimensions

Readers on

145 Mendeley
1 CiteULike
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Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for sciatica
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, October 2016
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd012382
Pubmed ID

Eva Rasmussen-Barr, Ulrike Held, Wilhelmus JA Grooten, Pepijn DDM Roelofs, Bart W Koes, Maurits W van Tulder, Maria M Wertli


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are one of the most frequently prescribed drugs for the treatment of sciatica. A previous Cochrane review on the efficacy of NSAIDs summarised findings for acute and chronic low back pain (LBP) and sciatica. This is an update of the original review (2008) focusing on people suffering from sciatica. To determine the efficacy of NSAIDs in pain reduction, overall improvement, and reported side effects in people with sciatica. We performed electronic searches up to 24 June 2015 in the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMed, and two trials registers. We searched reference lists of included studies and relevant reviews on the topics for additional trials. We included randomised controlled trials (double-blind, single-blind, and open-label) that assessed the efficacy of NSAIDs in sciatica. We included all trials that compared NSAIDs to placebo, to other NSAIDs, or to other medication. Additional interventions were allowed if there was a clear contrast for the treatment with NSAIDs in the trial. Three review authors independently assessed the risk of bias and extracted the data. Where feasible we calculated pooled results using Review Manager 5.3. We reported pain relief outcomes using mean difference (MD) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI). We used risk ratios (RR) with 95% CI to report global improvement of treatment, adverse effects, and additional medication. We performed a meta-analysis if possible. We assessed level of evidence using the GRADE approach. We used standard methodological procedures recommended by The Cochrane Collaboration. We included 10 trials reported in 9 publications (N = 1651). Only one trial out of 10 was assessed at low risk of bias. Five trials used the currently recommended daily dose for the drug, and two trials used lower daily doses available over the counter. Three trials investigated NSAIDs no longer approved for human use. The follow-up duration was short in all studies but one.Three trials (n = 918) compared the effects of NSAIDs to those of placebo on pain reduction. The pooled mean difference showed comparable pain reduction (visual analogue scale, 0 to 100) in the NSAIDs and placebo groups (MD -4.56, 95% CI -11.11 to 1.99). Heterogeneity was high (I(2) = 82%), and the quality of the evidence was very low. When we excluded one trial with a short follow-up of eight hours, the mean difference further decreased (MD -0.09, 95% CI -9.89 to 9.71). Three trials (n = 753) compared NSAIDs to placebo regarding global improvement. We found low-quality evidence that NSAIDs are more effective than placebo with a risk ratio of 1.14 (95% CI 1.03 to 1.27). One trial (n = 214) studied the effect of NSAIDs on disability, finding very low-quality evidence that NSAIDs are no more effective than placebo on disability. Four trials (n = 967) comparing NSAIDs to placebo reported adverse effects, with low-quality evidence that the risk for adverse effects is higher in the NSAID group than in the placebo group (RR 1.40, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.93). The adverse effects reported in this review are consistent with those previously reported in the literature. This updated systematic review including 10 trials evaluating the efficacy of NSAIDs versus placebo or other drugs in people with sciatica reports low- to very low-level evidence using the GRADE criteria. The efficacy of NSAIDs for pain reduction was not significant. NSAIDs showed a better global improvement compared to placebo. These findings must be interpreted with caution, as the level of evidence according to the GRADE classification was very low for the outcome pain reduction and low for global improvement due to small study samples, inconsistent results, imprecision, and a high risk of bias in the included trials. While the trials included in the analysis were not powered to detect potential rare side effects, we found an increased risk for side effects in the short-term NSAIDs use. As NSAIDs are frequently prescribed, the risk-benefit ratio of prescribing the drug needs to be considered.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 58 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 145 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United Kingdom 1 <1%
Spain 1 <1%
Unknown 143 99%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Bachelor 25 17%
Student > Master 22 15%
Other 17 12%
Researcher 12 8%
Student > Postgraduate 11 8%
Other 32 22%
Unknown 26 18%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 58 40%
Nursing and Health Professions 22 15%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 6 4%
Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science 5 3%
Psychology 5 3%
Other 15 10%
Unknown 34 23%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 54. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 16 September 2020.
All research outputs
of 17,362,547 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 11,660 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 277,695 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 179 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 17,362,547 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 97th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 11,660 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 25.0. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 90% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 277,695 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 95% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 179 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done well, scoring higher than 87% of its contemporaries.